Posted by: excharisma | April 28, 2009

Another Gospel?

Another Gospel?

(Galatians 1:6-9)

04/26/09

   We are going to begin a study of the book of Galatians.  Paul wrote this letter to the church of Galatia and this is the local church Paul started and discipled.  This church had the privilege of having the greatest teacher of the church, besides Christ, to learn the fundamental and foundational teachings of Christianity.  But from these few verses we read that false teachers had crept in and began to teach “another gospel”.  Today, we will see from these verses: Paul’s wonder, Paul’s wisdom, and Paul’s warning about the deception and false teachers in Galatia.

 

I.  Paul’s Wonder of Their Deception (v. 6- I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel) – The believer’s at Galatia were taught by the Apostle Paul himself.  He lead many of the believers there to Christ, discipled, and preached the foundational truths of doctrine to them directly and yet there had been false teachers gain a foothold in this local body that had led them into gross error and deceived them into believing they were teaching another gospel.  

A. These people were believers– they were Christians, according to passages to them by Paul in chapter 3 and 4 describing their coming to faith in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and Paul calling them Christian brothers (brethren) in this book and yet they had become seriously confused and led into deception.  They knew Christ and had heard the true message of the gospel and were led into this error.  The amazement of Paul was that they were deserting the truth of the gospel that led them to Christ, actually deserting like soldiers desert their fellow soldiers, their general, and their allegiances to their Supreme Commander and country.  The KJV says that they were removing themselves from the gospel truth and the grace that they were called to in Christ.  Not that they were deserting the gospel of Paul but the gospel of Christ and the very One (Jesus) that had called them into grace.  Understand they didn’t lose their salvation in Christ but they had lost their fellowship with Christ because they had put this false gospel before Christ.    

B. The False Gospel Infection– What exactly the false gospel that caused their defection was that of the Judaizers.  They were false teachers that had become part of that local body after Paul had left to go on to build other bodies of believers (churches) in different countries.  

   The Judaizers taught that for the Gentile believers in Christ had to become physically and ritually like the Jews to continue being Christians by being circumcised and keep the dietary laws, religious days and festivals, and Sabbaths.  You’ve got to understand they taught that Christ died and rose again from the dead for their sins but they taught you must do all the Jewish religious laws and regulations in order to stay saved.  They did not deny Christ as Messiah or death for our sins on the cross.  If they had denied the work and person of Christ they would not had been accepted by the Galatian church.  The way they introduced error into this church was to “improve” on the gospel of Christ by adding religious ceremonies, requirements, rituals, and standards of the Old Covenant (side note: the WoF also supposedly “improves” on the Gospel and doctrine).  

   When you add anything to the grace of God, even the Old Covenant Law, then you destroy grace.  It did not matter that even though they added the Law to grace, then grace ceased being grace (NASB Rom. 11:6- But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace).  You see the only gospel of Christ is grace, (“God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone”).  Eph. 2:8-10a says it best, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship…”; the work of salvation is not through the power, abilities, or merits of man in any way but only through the grace and mercy of God through what Christ has done for us.  We as mankind cannot individually or corporately by what we are or what we do attain salvation for ourselves or even sustain the salvation that Christ provides for us.  It is all by God’s grace we are saved and are kept saved unto glorification.  It is a foolish idea to believe that such a gracious salvation can be kept by any human effort on our part by religious ritual or ceremony.  It says in Romans 5:2 that only in Jesus, “we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand”, it is only on this grace we stand in salvation and by and through nothing else.  

   Because the Judaizers promoted works with grace then it put the focus of salvation off of the Cross of Christ and onto the works of flesh.  When this is taught then people are putting faith into their works instead of Christ.  Then instead of them preaching the grace through faith in Christ the emphasis is then on the human works to save thus having not only false teachers in a church but a body of false believers.  

   When a church places an emphasis on baptism to save (Church of Christ, UPC, Church of Jesus Christ) or an evidence of an experience to save (speaking in tongues; UPC, Church of Jesus Christ), participation to receive a sacrament (ex. communion, Eucharist; like the RCC), or church on Sabbath proves true believers (SDA) then it is a false teaching because it is dependant on a work based salvation and not God’s grace. Remember anything added to God’s grace is not ever grace.  Just because it was a little error added to mostly truth don’t think it wasn’t deadly.  Even if you add a little drop of poison to a glass of pure water it is still deadly.

II. Paul’s Wisdom Concerning the Deception (v. 7- Which is not another; but there be some that trouble (disturb) you, and would pervert (distort) the gospel of Christ)- Is there another Gospel? To answer like the Apostle Paul the answer is an emphatic no.  Paul says it best there is no other gospel of salvation than what was preached to you concerning Christ.  That gospel message says that God alone saves through the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The message of works maintaining salvation destroys the powerful message of the true gospel message by falsely proclaiming to mankind the false belief that we can save ourselves.  And if it is by our works and efforts then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21- for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain). 

   If it had been in our ability to keep the moral law and standards of God then the death of Christ would have been needless because not only did Christ die for our sins but also fulfilled the Law in our behalf (Rom. 8:2-4a, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us”). The truth of scripture shows us that it is not by our efforts or strength but by the powerful work of salvation made possible for us solely through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:6- For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly).  

   The false teaching was troubling and disturbing to the church here in Galatia.  We see the word for trouble here meant a great disturbance and distress.  It was tearing this church apart and it was tearing families apart.  It was causing all of this because it perverted the true gospel message making it into something entirely opposite of what it really was.  Whenever the gospel message or any biblical doctrine perverted it will cause that church to become unsettled and destroy people, families, and maybe a once thriving congregation (Titus 1:10-11- For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain) and the main reasons usually are for power and monetary gain.  

   There are many supposed Christian ministries on TV and radio that fall under the title of false teachers.  Many who preach “another gospel” of health/wealth varieties (prosperity, WoF), positive confession, and experience centered groups (signs and blunders, I mean wonders) that supposedly are preaching a message that has been hidden or suppressed until God has revealed it to them.  I’m not going to be able to go into them this time but needless to say they preach a false gospel that is destroying churches and families and causing them to fall into unbelief.  But Paul wants to be aware of them and the wisdom he shares is that although they do not openly contradict the Bible and denounce Christ but these demonic teachers so subtly distort and undermine the word of God, that they gradually lead people into error.  Never compromise the truths of the Word of God irregardless of how Christian it sounds because false teachers have an excellent teacher of deception, Satan (2 Co. 11:13-14- For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light).  Deception is one of the greatest tools that Satan uses.

III. Paul’s Final Warnings (Gal. 1:8-9- But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed)- There are so many false teachers and ministries out there that use every avenues of media to push their false doctrines of devils.  There was a so-called Christian revival meeting in Florida recently by a young man named Todd Bentley saying that God was going to use him to bring a world-wide revival. In fact he said that an angel had come to him named “winds of change” and that God was going to usher in this great revival through him.  I listened to some of his messages and what I noticed was a great emphasis on himself, his visions, his words from God, and his supposed healings.  But another thing I noticed was a lack of biblical preaching, lack of reading from the Bible, false experiences, and an emphasis on a sideshow performance of faith healing.  It was all emotional, all experienced based (truth dependent on false experiences rather than Biblical truth), and little if any preaching from the Bible (Mt. 7:20 – Therefore by their fruits you will know them).  I knew he was a false teacher first from his false teaching and preaching (angels giving him messages, erroneous and retarded doctrines) and false allegations of great healings (no evidence of these healings provided or proved) and later it became evident from the life he lived in private that became very public (he left his wife for another younger woman that was one of his assistants and this happened during this false revival). Paul has not only warned the church at Galatia this time but even before of false teachers but this is the warning that he speaks twice that if anyone preaches anything other than the powerful truth of salvation alone through Jesus  let them accursed.  This word accursed in Greek is anathema which means that which is devoted to destruction.  So what Paul is saying is if they are so devoted to destroying the gospel message and destroying lives by their false teaching let them go to their destruction and feel the wrath of God.  Strong words but that is the false teachers’ end.  

We will explore the false teachers and teachings next time but let’s leave with this.  Keep in God’s word, study God’s word, and know His truth because through this it will keep you from the troubling of false teachers and error. 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.

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